A Little About The Band:
Anchor Lane are a group of young lads from Scotland and in particular the Glasgow area. They have what looks to be a great future ahead of them. They have already garnered much praise along with good reviews having successfully supported artists such as Cheap Trick, Eagles Of Death Metal and Tremonti amongst others and played several festival bills including Download. The band formed about 4 or 5 years ago and describe themselves as “heavy rock”. The 4-piece state some of their influences as Led Zeppelin, Alter Bridge, Free, Soundgarden and Thin Lizzy. There is definitely hints of these along with others in the music they make. It is “classic rock” but with a modern take and some sounds from the 90s, possibly when they were kids first getting into music.
This, their first album, is produced by Toby Jepson of Little Angels and Wayward Sons fame. And has songs co-written (and one where he does backing vocals) by Ricky Warwick of Black Star Riders and, of course, The Almighty. Good company and quite an endorsement for them at such an early stage of their career.
About The Album:
The album has 10 songs which are quite varied in style, even vocally. Most of them have choruses that can be sung along with. Meaning that live, the songs should get a good reaction from audiences. Opening song “Blood And Irony” has a ’90s feel about it and reminded me a little of Terrorvision in the hook as well as vocals. It has a repetitive but infectious refrain with the vocals coming through nice and clear. It sort of slowly pulls you in until singer Conor Gaffney unleashes a scream really announcing that you are listening to a ROCK album as it heavies up! There are some nice blues guitar licks from Lawrence O’Brien, a touch of early ZZ TOP in sound and style.
One of the things about Anchor Lane and this debut album is that it has “groove” running all the way through it. Every track can get the body moving and are danceable. That word “groove” was the word I wrote down most in my notes. I cannot apologize if it appears in this review a number of times.
“Fame Shame” is slightly punky in execution and has more in common with say The Wildhearts or bands like Slade or Sweet from the ’70s with its snottiness as well as boot-stomping, as they attack the modern culture of social media. They change tack in “Voodoo” with its Southern flavoured opening and an almost Ronnie Van Zant sweet sounding vocal (think “Simple Man” or “Am I Losing”). The chorus takes you to the Southern Delta and swings nicely.
Title track “Casino” is part groove (that word again) and soul with a huge slice of da funk! The rhythm section of bassist Matthew Quigley and drummer Scott Hanlon are so tight and solid allowing the vocalist and guitarist to shine. They work nicely as a team. The backbone of the band is a rock to base the songs on. They go a bit heavier on “Clocks” where there is a monstrous Soundgarden type riff which turns on a sixpence into a lovely Free type song with Conor at one point unleashing his inner Paul Rodgers where an “ooohhhh” says SO much! I always thought that was a skill and a half. One moan and the listener knows exactly what they mean. Lovely stuff.
“Stone Cold Hearted” starts all shimmering, a fuzzy guitar tone and crooned vocals before the riff kicks in. This is a delicious blues workout and the sound of a band way ahead of their years. Tight, well arranged and delivered with panache.
Showing their versatility they go almost country on “Shell Of Me” which has a lovely simplicity about it. I do have one complaint about this track (hopefully they will sort this out on stage…) is the guitar solo, it isn’t long enough. It is so delightful I wanted more. It almost is a pop song with a tiny little of Chris Cornell in the vocal nearer the end (pop doesn’t always have to be a dirty word!). “Flatline” is the only track that doesn’t do it for me, the riff is decent but too many “nahs” for me. It passes me by most times as I listen through the album. Mind for a debut album by a young band to only have one track that doesn’t wow one reviewer (sure others may pick it up as their favourite) is in my books bloody good going!
Things kick up superbly (for me anyway) on the last two songs. “Dead Run” has the best chorus of the album on it. Opening with a right foot stomping riff and with a couple of changes of pace to keep us on our toes this is a great song vocally assisted by Ricky Warwick on backing vocals. The faster section at one point is a tad Zep which is fine by me. Wrapping things up on their debut is “Honey” which again reminded me of classic Terrorvision but mixed with grunge in tones of guitar. Once again they have a great fun sing-along chorus that should get a great reception live.
2020 is off to a flyer when it comes to new rock on the basis of this belting introductory album. The musicianship is excellent, vocals varied, effective and powerful. This is the sound of a band that will make radio airplay and wow at festivals. Certainly, feel-good rock ‘n’ roll executed with class and enthusiasm. Check these guys out before they get huge. You have been warned.
OUT January 31, 2020!
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